Another year of the Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend is in the books, and per usual the weekend ended with a game between two teams that both can say they have plenty of work to do before they open the season in about a month. The game was highlighted by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the AFL, and two of the best from that league the eventually merged with the NFL took the field in Canton, the Buffalo Bills, and the Houston Oilers (being played by the Tennessee Titans).
The contest was, as expected, sloppy, filled with numerous errors on both sides, and of course had its share of guys that will have jobs working in stores and on driving routes by the end of training camp playing in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Titans came out with a 21-18 win, and there were a few things on both sides to highlight in this lackluster affair.
1. Vince Young – Wow. And to think a few years back Young was a major up and coming superstar in this game. He’s going to hard pressed to make that journey to being a star again, as Sunday night he looked like a guy fighting for a backup QB job. He threw a bad pick in the second quarter for the Titans, but did rebound somewhat and had a touchdown pass that made it 21-3. His final numbers, 5-for-10 for 39 yards, one TD and one pick. Young may never reach that form of his rookie year again.
2. The Debut of Terrell Owens – A rather clean effort from T.O., as the superstar wide out on and off the field played all of one drive, and had two catches for 27 yards, including a 16-yard catch. The question will be the timing with QB Trent Edwards, and how much does Lee Evans really benefit from Owens in terms of taking coverages away from him?
3. The Bills O-Line Struggled – As expected with five new guys, the Buffalo O-line had a tough night. They saw their top two backs, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson gain just 10 yards on 6 carries, and Trent Edwards had some pressure as well. This unit is a true work in progress, but it’s a unit that has to step up and make plays and open some holes for this team to make a serious playoff run.
4. Why Run the Fake Punt? – Don’t get me wrong, the play that opened the scoring, a niffty 40-yard-run by Titans punter A.J. Trapasso as he faked a lateral behind his back was an awesome way to start the preseason. Problem for me though is how are the Titans ever going to be able to run that play again? Why would you waste such a great fake gadget play on the first game in the preseason?
5. How can the League Charge for this Game?! – Now I’m not going to lie and say that I paid for the two seats we had for this “game,” but the face value on our tickets was $55!! I heard some loudmouth dad who was distraught because someone was sitting in his seat (aka – bleacher numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4) say he paid $60 each for his tickets for he and his disinterested wife and two small kids who will never remember this game.
The league really should simply hold a raffle and give tickets away for this game. I know that does not profit them, but come on, this game is a joke from a playing standpoint, is held in a high school stadium, and isn’t even really played like a preseason game, as teams play their starters for 1-2 series at most.
Of course the league won’t do that since some 20,000 people have been paying for years to watch this game, but they really should consider it.
6. Next Year – The NFL does not announce the game for next year for awhile, but here’s guessing it’s going to be Dallas vs New York Jets. The Cowboys should have two players entering the HOF – Emmit Smith and Deion Sanders, and they haven’t played in the game since their OT loss to Cleveland in 1999. The Jets haven’t played in the game since 1992, and have only been invited to play in it twice. A random guess, but we’ll see if that plays out.